Fine Wine Safari Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Vintage Series: Part 3 – Sesti…

The 2015 vintage is a historical year for Brunello di Montalcino that nobody should miss. The wines show impressive precision of vivid fruit, fine tannins and freshness in acidity despite their ripeness and richness which makes them some of the most exciting releases since 2010.

Winemakers in Montalcino were never better prepared to produce outstanding wines in a year like 2015 with their exactness in their vineyards and cellars from fine-tuned canopy management and crop thinning to optical sorting and soft fermentations. So many wine producers in Montalcino made excellent wines in 2015.

A small handful of the wines I tasted are a little bit closed at this early stage, and these will benefit from more cellar ageing. However, the majority of the samples tasted showed softly textured, generous and accessible characteristics that make them beautiful to drink straight out of the gate or with very little aging required. Bottles from the versatile 2015 vintage can go into your cellar for safekeeping or onto your dinner table for near- to medium-term consumption. The choice is yours, and that’s one of the top selling points of 2015 Brunello reds.

Sesti – Without doubt one of the leading producers in Brunello di Montalcino: an estate of 9 hectares under vine which is run by astrologer Giuseppe Sesti and his daughter Elisa. In the vineyard, everything is kept as natural as possible with zero use of herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertiliser and even outside sourced yeasts. The study of astronomy and lunar cycles has also influenced Giuseppe’s approach in the winery – he follows the phases of the moon when it comes to winemaking techniques; only racking wines during a waning of the moon. Ageing of the wines takes place in larger Slavonian oak casks because, according to Sesti, if he is happy with the fruit, the tannins and the overall growing season, then there is no need to mask the wine, but rather preserve the inherent qualities that Sangiovese Grosso draws from these meticulously farmed vineyards.

Castello di Argiano, Sesti’s medieval castle.

Sesti Brunello di Montalcino 2015, 14 Abv.

On the nose this attractive 2015 Brunello shows wonderfully elegant, fragrant notes of wild strawberries, fresh roses and violets that mix with exotic notes of cinnamon, baking cloves and black chocolate spices. Full and generous in the mouth, there is plenty of juicy cherry and red currant fruit intensity that melts in to a complex mélange of liquorice, sweet tobacco, cola and black plum confit. Focused and persistent, this wine has all the building blocks to improve over 8 to 10 years as it mellows in bottle after 39 months ageing in big barrels.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Tasting the New Release Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino 2012 with Giovanni Gaja…

There are few regions as close to my heart as Brunello di Montalcino. The opulence, the complexity, the age ability, and the sheer magic that the very best examples reveal to their drinkers. I have always been a massive fan of the Gaja Brunello wines ever since I enjoyed the 1996 at a tasting with Gaia Gaja many years ago at Theo Randall’s restaurant. But Since 2007/8, the wines have really started to reach new heights of quality.

The 2012 vintage marks another change in the production of Gaja Brunello with all the wines being vinified in 500 litre tonneau instead of the usual mix between large barrels, barrique and tonneau. This move, Giovanni insists, will give the wines greater elegance, purity and textural finesse.

2012 was indeed a warmer, dryer vintage producing rich, opulent wines with higher alcohol and massive extract. Hence the decision was taken to christen the new oak tonneau in this vintage and blend all the Cru’s into just one estate wine. So like Gaja’s Barbaresco 2012 which included all three Cru’s, the Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello 2012 is a super cuvee that includes the fruit harvested from Rennina and their excellent five-hectare Cru site of Sugarille with galestro limestone soils and all-southern exposures. Suckling has already called the 2012 Brunello vintage “A Rock Star Vintage”… so expect big, dense, showy wines.

Tasting Note: The 2012 is a dark, dense seductive beast. Richly fruited with a lush, fragrant bouquet, there is a lot to this wine which reveals the profound, complex notes of a warmer, more exotic vintage in Montalcino. The nose offers up black cherry, kirsch liquor, cherry blossom perfume, and vanilla and licorice stick. There is a massive textural concentration and opulence immediately evident. This might be a first date but it’s not a wine shy to reveal all its assets. Vibrant layers of raisined black cherry, cranberry and forest strawberries emerge in a luxurious, opulent, hedonistic expression. But the wine never looses is varietal typicity of cherry stone fruits, licorice, aniseed root, dark damson plum spice and sweet tannins. Along side all the textural palate richness is a vibrant, fresh, cherry acidity that moves in parallel to the rich, harmonious fruit. A very generous wine that finishes broad and long with the most pretty bruleed, aniseed and white toast finish. Drink from release and over 8 to 10 years. 

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)